July 25, 2008

Scholarships and Financial aid: types and benefits

Going to university or college is one of the biggest investments anyone could ever make in life. Going to a foreign university is an even bigger investment. Essential questions that must be answered include:
  • how much is it going to cost and what help is available?
  • can you manage a budget whilst balancing your study, work and social life?
As a student, you will have to pay for two things: 'tuition fees' for your course of study and 'living costs for rent, food, books, transport and entertainment. Study cost is a concern for most students, especially if wishing to study outside their home country as international students. It will always make an impact on the decisions they make.

A student wishing to study abroad is an international student and have to pay for the full cost of their course in most countries, with the exception of countries that offer 'Free Tuition Education'. The amount is set by the various universities and colleges, and are completely different and much more expensive than what their own home students pay.

Types of Scholarships
Types of Scholarships
Scholarships and other forms of financial aid provide succor to many international students. And the different types may include:
  • Undergraduate: awarded to students studying for a bachelors or below. Include financial aid for secondary and primary school students
  • Postgraduate: awarded to students studying for a masters, doctoral, postdoctoral, fellowships and similar
  • Merit: financial aid for which criteria is determined by student's ability e.g. athletic, academic, artistic or other abilities.
  • Need: financial aid for complete or part tuition, with or without living costs, for which the financial situation of the student and their family are the primary factors in determining the recipient.
  • Institutional: awarded by a specific institution e.g. college or university to a student planning to attend that institution
  • Government: many governments award grants to both their own and other foreign students. Government scholarships usually cover all fields and courses of study
  • Others: miscellaneous student aids like loans, grants, bursaries, and financial aid by race, religion, or other factors that filter out applicants, so as to determine the final recipients.
As a general rule, 'grants and bursaries' do not have to be paid back by students, but 'loans' do, so it is important to check what you are applying for so that you know what you will owe when you leave higher education (see 'Easily repayable loans for international students').

Benefits of scholarships and financial aids
To the African scholar, whether at the undergraduate or postgraduate level, the greatest benefit that a scholarship or financial aid offers is the opportunity to travel abroad to access quality education to develop unique intellectual abilities and learn skills that will impact significantly and positively, not only to the lives of each scholar and their family, but more so to African communities and the continent as a whole.

Africa is literally loaded with issues of social and political conflicts, amongst innumerable societal problems. So where will the solution to Africa's many problems come from? From the international community? Rich nations? Do you really believe foreign nations will set aside the interests of its people to care for Africa's? If roles were reversed, would you? Who will take care of our brothers and sisters who are dying by the millions each year from starvation, disease, war, etc?

While natural resources are an asset for nations who own them, history has proven that human resources, especially an educated youth who takes to heart the problems undermining their population, is the greatest asset of any nation.

Our candid belief and advice here at Study & Scholarships is this: If you obtain a scholarship to study in a country overseas, do not forget where you came from.

See scholarships for what they really are: an opportunity to go abroad to obtain unique resources / skills that will one day allow you to help the continent of Africa, our brothers, sisters and children.

There is no road map or easy way to achieve this, quite the contrary. But there is a saying we are all familiar with: "Where there is a will there is a way."

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